Film review: Hypnotic

Taking on many aspects of the filmmaking process, from editing, cinematography, and production design, writer and director Robert Rodriguez was once referred to as a “one-man-film-crew”. His latest piece is a departure from the grindhouse style he is associated with but it’s still very much his movie, his co-writer Max Borenstein adapting from a story Rodriguez was developing over twenty years ago. Hypnotic is a sci-fi action thriller set in Austin, Texas where detective Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) is reeling after his young daughter is kidnapped from a local park. As he investigates a bank heist carried out by a man known as Dellrayne (William Fichtner), he discovers a shocking link between the master criminal and his missing child.

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Film review: Master Gardener

Auteurs are defined as filmmakers whose ‘individual style and complete control over all elements of production give a film its personal and unique stamp’. Paul Schrader’s films have always dealt in redemption and masculinity but in recent years, he has almost developed his recurring themes into a genre of their own. The final instalment of his thematically linked contemporary trilogy, following on from 2017’s First Reformed and 2021’s The Card Counter, is psychological indie thriller Master Gardener. The story centres around Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton), a horticulturist who works for wealthy widow Mrs Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver) by tending to her picture-esque Louisiana estate. When her troubled great-niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell) comes to stay and becomes Narvel’s apprentice, he is forced to reckon with his own dark, dangerous past.

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Film review: Renfield

Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula has been terrifying cinema audiences for just over a century across many different forms, from Bela Lugosi’s 1931 pre-Code portrayal to Gary Oldman’s gothic turn in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of the novel. The latest to don the collared cloak on the big screen is Nicolas Cage in Renfield, a comedy horror that centres around the vampire’s dutiful familiar come henchman.

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cinema · GFF23

Film review: How to Blow Up a Pipeline

 Inspired by the ideas in Andreas Malm’s non-fiction book of the same name, How to Blow Up a Pipeline marks the sophomore feature from American writer and director Daniel Goldhaber. The eco-action-thriller follows a group of young people as they plot to sabotage the development of an oil pipeline in West Texas. Assembled by ringleaders Xochitl (Ariela Barer) and Shawn (Marcus Scribner), they share common ground in their fight for environmental social justice, but their daring mission comes with huge risks and consequences.

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Film review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie

After many years of poorly received efforts, we’re finally in a boom period of video game adaptations with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tetris, and the television version of The Last of Us achieving success and critical acclaim. Following a notorious live-action outing in 1993, the iconic platform-game plumber makes his animated cinema debut in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic. As the brothers attempt to get their family business off the ground in Brooklyn, they are sucked through a mysterious green pipe and land in separate new worlds. Mario (Chris Pratt) soon befriends Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) and asks Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) for help. Meanwhile, Luigi (Charlie Day) is stuck in the Dark Lands where Koopa king Bowser (Jack Black) hatches his latest evil plan. 

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cinema · GFF23

Film review: Sanctuary

Confined to a lavish hotel room, the sophomore feature from director Zachary Wigon playfully straddles between black comedy and erotic thriller. The plot focuses on Hal (Christopher Abbott), the wealthy heir to a hotel empire. At his behest, he is joined by dominatrix Rebecca (Margaret Qualley) whilst ordering obscene amounts of food from room service. As they embark upon their business, a surprise announcement flips the dynamic of their working relationship.

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cinema · GFF23

Film review: Prison 77

 After the death of tyrannical dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain began its transition to democracy as the constitutional monarchy was established. Writer and director Alberto Rodriguez looks at this turbulent period through his Barcelona-based thriller Prison 77 (Modelo 77). Penned with his regular collaborator Rafael Cobos, the story follows young accountant Manuel (Miguel Herrán) who faces years in jail for embezzlement. As he adjusts to the brutality of life behind bars, he befriends wise veteran inmate José Pino (Javier Gutiérrez), who reluctantly takes him under his wing. As the conditions worsen during the prisoners’ fight for amnesty, a union is formed which leads to riotous rebellion.

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